Science Nature Beauty

In the eye of the beholder

The eyes play a very special role in people’s attractiveness, and not just since wearing masks became commonplace in many parts of the world. They are the mirror of our soul. Unfortunately, stress and lack of sleep can also be seen first in the eyes – dark circles make us look tired and unhealthy.

Is beauty just in the eye of the beholder?

Consumers want to look as healthy and attractive as possible – no matter what their basic requirements are – whether their skin is dry, sensitive or aging. Cosmetic scientists want to support them in their approach with the right products. But what is actually attractive?

It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Hardly anyone would contradict this, but there are also proven general criteria that make a person appear attractive and that we as cosmetic scientists can target in our product development.


A Zoom call with our eyes

Not for nothing, eye care represents a growing segment in the personal care market. For cosmetics scientists, however, developing a good eye product care is a complicated topic. The area next to and around the eyes can be wrinkly. Dark circles are a big concern, eye bags are another. An eye care product is complicated to formulate. Not one sole active ingredient can cover all areas of concern for the eye area. It is all about finding smart combinations of ingredients to get to the goal. There are other important concerns for the eye area too, though: the skin can be extremely thin and sensitive and the eyes themselves can be easily irritated when they come in contact with ingredients which are less mild than they should be.

For the purpose of this blog text, let’s not go into wrinkling and sagging of the skin. Instead, let’s focus on the main reasons of somebody losing their “sparkle” and which make them “look tired”, dark circles and eye bags. Is there something easy which may help? There is: gentle massage. This will help drain the under eye-area and reduce eye bags a bit. For the same reason, dark circles will also be reduced, but this depends on the exact nature of your dark circle. Is it hyperpigmentation (especially relevant for people with dark skin color)? Then massage will not help much. Is it that bluish color you see a lot with Caucasians? Then massage will definitely help a bit.


Going beyond massage

An eye care product should obviously give added value to massage only, and should be able to deal with problems massage is not able to help out with. Lots of challenges, but are there any common denominators which we can focus on and help reduce both dark circles and eye bags? Are there specific key features of skin we need to focus on to kill these two birds with one stone? There are indeed.


The skin of the eye area: thin

The skin around and under the eyes is extremely thin. It is virtually translucent, meaning anything which might have a dark color which is under the skin is easily visible. This is a particularly important skin characteristic, because the eye area shows lots of muscles directly under the skin. We turn and blink our eyes virtually constantly and these muscles make that happen. Directly under the skin, but also inside the skin, there are a lot of blood microvessels which transport blood to the muscles. Where the redness of blood in the microvessels is not visible at the skin surface, as soon as blood escapes from the vessels, it will produce molecules which have an extremely dark color. During the process of gradually broken down, their color changes to yellowish. This is all visible at the skin surface and plays a very important role in dark circles, especially for people with light skin.



The fact that the skin is extremely thin also leads to other problems which are very specific for the eye area. The skin around the eyes is extremely sensitive. Not in the classic way of that the skin is perceivably easily irritated, though. Inside and under the skin around the eye ‘microinflammatory’ processes are a constant factor. These processes do not perceivably lead to irritations or redness, but play an important role in the ‘background’, similarly to the phenomenon of ‘inflammaging’, where microinflammatory processes lead to the breakdown of collagen, for instance.

In the eye area, the microinflammatory processes make the blood microvessels more permeable and blood escapes from the blood vessels, as described above. These processes also lead to the increase in production of melanin. Melanin is a brown pigment and plays an important role in dark circles for people with darker skin types. Shortly coming back to blood escaping from the blood vessels and molecules then being produced with extremely dark color: these molecules (e.g. heme) are strongly inflammatory too. As you now can imagine, dark circles are a consequence of inflammatory vicious circles which easily start because the skin of the eye area being sensitive and easily inflamed.


Lymphatic draining

One last important factor to consider is particularly relevant for under eye bags: lymphatic draining. All over our body, where there are blood vessels, there are lymphatic vessels too. They play two main roles for our body: they transport immune cells to those areas in our body which are invaded by features which pose a threat to our body and draining, i.e. pumping away so-called interstitial fluid from the areas between our cells. Lymph vessels maintain our body’s fluids homeostasis. An eye bag is, in essence, filled with fluid, fluid which needs to be drained away by the lymphatic vessels, but which are not able to do so well enough. The reason for this? Inflammatory processes. These not only lead to a breakdown of the lymphatic vessel network in the skin, they also disallow new lymphatic vessels to be formed.


Zooming in

Long story short, if you want to provide the eye area with good treatment, first and foremost, provide it with the means to reduce the inflammatory processes in the skin. With that (and daily use of this product), you avoid, or at least reduce the likelihood of dark circles and eye bags appearing. Chances are, though, that your interest does not lie in just tackling the cause of the problem, but also in reducing the problems as such, and reduce dark circles and eye bags, while they are already there.

Heme, the molecule which originates from the blood which has escaped from the blood vessels with extremely dark color and strong inflammatory potential can be broken down. Heme Oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is an enzyme which is responsible for that and the production of HO-1 can be increased. The production of lymph vessels can also be improved. By increasing the key inducer of lymphatic vessel production, a so-called growth factor called VEGF-C, this can be made possible. Another important feature is melanin. The production of melanin can be reduced and the breakdown of melanin, for instance through autophagy, can be induced. Never forget to reduce inflammatory processes though. It does not make sense to just focus on the problem itself without getting rid of the cause of the problem.

At CLR we are science driven. We try to understand the problem we want to solve and then try to go to the cause of the problem to get to the best possible solution. The eye area is an extremely multifaceted challenge for people like us, who develop and produce cosmetic active ingredients. We think we have gotten it right in this case. The product is called JuvenEye CLR™. It does all of the above and a bit more. Based on a synergistic combination of extracts of Hieracium pilosella and the flowers of Bellis perennis, it is natural and highly effective targets the most important dermatological processes in the formation and persistence of dark circles –for eyes whose beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder.



Harald van der Hoeven

Director Product Design & Development